Love in Tech-Times

One year ago, on 14 February 2020, the world celebrated its usual Valentine’s Day. Little did we know at that time, that after a year, Valentine’s Day will be so different. Digital dating was in trend before the pandemic as well, but the use of dating apps showed a high growth – not just dating went digital, but courtship went digital. And, in some cases, even relationships went digital – as a Guardian article describes a new-type of relationships established during a pandemic on the internet: “my girlfriend and I have never met – and Covid -19 is making it impossible” (Guardian). Meanwhile, dating apps are making cash, just recently with Bumble is officially preparing for a $6B IPO (initial public offering)
But, Valentine’s is here, and for those that are not in the group of “happily in love and under the same roof”, what to do? Honestly, we have no idea. But, cultural reflections are always a “way-to-go”. We started to collect some inspirations from movies, to see how literature imagined digital or cyber relations. At least, some movies might help to reflect on love and technology, and the future of our relationships.

  1. Her (2013)
    Going through a terrible divorce from his high school sweetheart, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) purchases a talking operating system with artificial intelligence. And the OS is female, Samantha. And the two begin to fall in love, and we have all the emotions and situations we can recognize: flirt, tell each other secrets, take trips to the beach, go on double dates, and get into fights. This is a world from the future, where emotions, love and intimacy are outsourced. The film, acclaimed by critics and public, had three nominations for the Golden Globe Awards, and won the globe for the Best Screenplay for Spike Jonze.

2. Thomas est amoureux (2000)
The possibilities of the Internet are infinite and sometimes it is very hard to keep control without losing control. If in most films the main theme is the transition from human to virtual relationship, this film shows the opposite of the situation. from the virtual world that seems to satisfy all your desires to the real one. This film is about computerization, digitalization and some consequences. The movie tells the story of Thomas, an agoraphobe, that has not left his apartment for 8 years. His psychoanalyst consults him to meet a woman through some online service. Will he find love online? And will he ever leave his apartment? The film was a success: it won eleven awards, including two awards at the Cannes Film Festival. For the director Pierre-Paul Render, this film was the debut.

3. Electric Dreams 1984 (musical fantasy)
Directed by Steve Barron and written by Rusty Lemorande, the screenplay had a very original plot and was seen as an interesting science fiction romantic comedy. The storyline is about an unusual love triangle: two traditional characters – a man and a woman – plus the… computer Edgard. In the beginning, the computer is helpful and helps his friend to forge a relationship, but after the computer falls in love with the same woman, he becomes jealous, and creates funny incidents and obstacles (blocking credit cards to reports to the police).

4. Blade Ranner-(1982, 2017)
Father of cyberpunk and neo-noir genre Ridley Scott’s asks the question true his vision of Blade Ranner of what makes a person who they are. Initially considered controversial, it became an acclaimed cult film regarded as one of the all-time best science fiction films. The movie is based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
The film is set in a dystopian future, in which synthetic humans known as replicants are bio-engineered by a corporation to work at space colonies. When a fugitive group of advanced replicants led by Roy Batty (Hauer) escapes back to Earth, burnt-out cop Rick Deckard (Ford) reluctantly agrees to hunt them down. Rick Deckard falls in love with Rachel, a robot, and tender feelings blur the line between a human and the machine.
Curiosity: Blade Runner had 7 versions, but just 2 of two are considered basic-the original version with a happy ending (1982), which was poorly received by film critics and failed at the box office, and the director’s version with an open ending (1992), which according to a survey of sixty scientists conducted by the British newspaper “The Guardian”, was recognized as the Best Sci-Fi Film Of All Time https://www.theguardian.com/science/2004/aug/26/sciencenews.sciencefictionspecial
A sequel, Blade Runner 2049, was released in October 2017, where a new, more obedient type of replicants had been developed by a corporation, one of these models is our hero, an L.A.P.D. an employee known as K. K has a gorgeous virtual-reality live-in girlfriend, quibbling named Joi (Ana de Armas), with whom he believes himself to be in love.

5. You’ve got mail (1998)
The film was shot at a time when the Internet was just beginning, and with it, dating sites were gaining popularity. Sometimes it is interesting to review the beginnings of the era of online dating and the first dating start-ups, with their hopes.
You’ve Got Mail premiered in late December 1998, and it si a romantic comedy about two people, enemies in life, who find soulmate-level connection via the magic of the dial-up modem. “In life, they’re at odds. Online, they’re in love” the film’s trailer announced, as the internet was something like magic. Which is, but in a different way 🙂

6. Zoe (2018)
Another Sci-Fi story, about the future of synthetic romance, and a question about how relationships will look in the not-so-far future.The film centers around a company Relationist that produces “the falling in love pills”, has an advanced algorithm for matchmaking, but also revolutionary synthetics designed to be the perfect partners that never leave you. Another twist is introduced, when one synthetic is raised believing she is human, and her discovery about who she really is, and her relationship with ups and down with her maker.
The film puts the interesting questions about the rights of robots, human-robot relationship and love, and the future of romantic relationships in a more and more fragmented society.

7. Actor Domhnall Gleeson
-The Irish actor has played in sci-fi, horror, romantic comedies, and also won few awards. So, you can watch him in the Star Wars series or you can look at the second series of Black Mirror, the first episode Be Right Back.
Ash Starmer who spends a lot of time on social networks, is killed in an accident. To cope with the loss of a loved one, Martha (Hayley Atwell) decides to use a new technology that simulates Ash’s personality: first through messages, and then by voice over the phone, based on data from his social media profiles. It seems that everything will be fine until Martha orders a synthetic body of Ash Starmer.

Domhnall Gleeson played the role of a time traveler, the movie About Time (2013).
And of course, we should not forget about the cherry on the top: the role of Caleb Smith in Ex Machina, for which he received widespread recognition and praise for his performances.
Ex-Machina is a story about the possibility of love, relationship with a robot, but also questioning our capacity to control something that we have raised to be independent.